Jimmy Dimora sentencing: Day 1 recap

9:15 PM, Jul 30, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- What was expected to take the better part of one day will now take at least two days.

It began at 9:30 a.m. Monday in U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi's courtroom in Akron and, with only two short breaks and a one-hour lunch break, ended at 5:52 p.m. without Lioi sentencing convicted former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.

She is expected to pronounce his sentence sometime Tuesday but not until after hearing more from character witnesses for Dimora and, possibly, Dimora himself. However, any witnesses on his behalf are subject to cross-examination by the prosecution. 

Dimora's family and friends packed the courtroom all day Monday as U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon and the father-daughter team of attorneys for Dimora -- Bill and Andrea Whitaker -- sparred back and forth for most of the day over assigning how much of a dollar amount would be assesed to Dimora for his part in the various Cuyahoga County corruption schemes.

Dimora, 57, of Independence, was found guilty of 33 of 34 counts on March 9 and was immediately taken into federal custody. On July 18, Lioi dismissed one of the counts as redundant so sentencing is now going to be done on only 32 counts.

Except for spending three days in St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown following a fall, he has been in the Northeast Ohio Correctional Institution since then.

At the end of court on Monday, the amount being ruled upon by Lioi had already reached just over $451,000. Just before court ended for the day, several character witnesses who were unable to return to Akron on Tuesday took the witness stand to testify under oath in support of Dimora.

The last to take the stand before court adjourned was Dimora's daughter, Lisa, an x-ray technician at University Hospitals. Lisa Dimora said the most memories she had were from the father-daughter dances they attended and that her father gave her the best advice.

She said the extended family came to their house a lot, both in Bedford Heights and in Independence. She said her father cared and supported his wife Lori and cared for and supported his family.

Before that, about 5:30 p.m., Andrew Getner, a police officer for Cleveland and North Randall police departments, took the stand and said he's been friends with Dimora since childhood.

He said he has never heard a bad word ever said about Dimora.

Preceding him was John Theron, Dimora's neighbor on Forestwood Drive in Independence, and he described him as a great neighbor.

Dimora's attorneys also brought in William J. Day, an attorney who says he has known Dimora for 23 years. Day said that when he ran for judge, Dimora helped him with the campaign. Day's son has disabilities and Dimora helped him get jobs with the county.

The first character witness was Philip Saunders, the president of the Bedford Heights City Council He said he often saw Dimora with his wife Lori and his children.

Saunders said Dimora, when he was mayor, established the Bedford Heights Home Days, started numerous programs for senior citizens, the Seniors-Plus program, got the city to build playgrounds and ballfields, and that the main recreation center was built under Dimora.

Dimora first served on Bedford Heights City Council for several years before being elected mayor of Bedford Heights. In 1998, Dimora was elected commissioner and served until December 2010. 

U.S. Attorneys have asked for a sentence "in excess of 22 years." The U.S. Probation Service has recommended a life sentence. Dimora's attorneys have asked for "far below" the 22 years.

Domora's co-defendant, Michael Gabor, will be in Lioi's courtroom Wednesday morning to hear the result of his restitution hearing and will also likely be sentenced that day as well.

Gabor, 52, was convicted on seven counts.


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